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Asian Shares Succumb To Heavy Selling Amid Trump's Rhetoric On N. Korea


Asian stocks fell across the board on Friday as the escalation in tensions surrounding North Korea continued to push investors towards safe-haven assets such as the Japanese yen, the Swiss franc and gold.

The dollar set an eight-week low against the yen after U.S. President Donald Trump further ratcheted up the rhetoric, suggesting that his "fire and fury" comments may not have been tough enough.

The president said "things will happen to them they never thought possible" should Pyongyang attack the United States or its allies.

The yen strengthened above ¥109 for the first time since mid-June and oil extended overnight losses on persistent worries about oversupply while gold prices hit their highest level in over two months.

The Japanese market was closed in observance of the Mountain Day holiday. China's Shanghai Composite index fell 53.21 points or 1.63 percent to 3,208.54 as investors continued to book profits in cyclical sectors. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 553 points or 2.02 percent at 26,887 in late trade.

Australian shares fell to near three-week lows in a broad-based selloff. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index and the broader All Ordinaries index fell around 1.2 percent each to finish at 5,693.10 and 5,743.50, respectively.

NAB lost 1 percent despite the bank reporting a 5 percent rise in its third-quarter cash profit. ANZ fell 1.9 percent, Commonwealth shed 0.7 percent and Westpac declined 1.3 percent after RBA Governor Philip Lowe said the central bank is prepared to be patient on rates for quite some time.

Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto retreated 2-3 percent while gold miners Evolution and Newcrest rose about 2 percent each. News Corp tumbled 5.4 percent and REA Group slumped 6 percent after disappointing full-year results.

Seoul shares hit 11-week low amid selling by foreign investors following Trump's fresh warning to North Korea.

The benchmark Kospi plummeted 39.76 points or 1.69 percent to 2,319.71, its lowest level since May 24. For the week, the index lost over 3 percent to register its biggest weekly loss since February 2016.

New Zealand's benchmark index S&P/NZX 50 dropped 70.60 points or 0.91 percent to 7,719.11, marking its biggest intraday loss since March 20.

New Zealand's manufacturing sector continued to expand in July, albeit at a slower rate, the latest survey from Business NZ showed with a PMI score of 55.4, down from the downwardly revised 56.0 in June.

Separately, industry data showed that New Zealand's house prices increased in July from a year ago, while the volume of sales plunged.

Singapore's Straits Timex index was down 1.1 percent. The country's GDP expanded 2.2 percent sequentially in the second three months of 2017, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said today. That follows the downwardly revised 2.1 percent contraction in the three months prior.

Benchmark indexes in India, Indonesia and Malaysia were down between half a percent and 1.2 percent while the Taiwan Weighted recouped early losses to end on a flat note.

Overnight, U.S. stocks suffered their steepest decline in three months, hit by fears over North Korea.

The Dow dropped 0.9 percent while the Nasdaq Composite plunged 2.1 percent and the S&P 500 lost 1.5 percent to close at their lowest levels in a month.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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